I didn’t head off to sleep until around 3 – 4 am this morning as I got into conversations with a friend in Mindanao. We mainly talked about life and the way things change over time, in his own words “when i first arrived I used to sing and dance but now nothing” which is something you begin to understand over time. Mainly this route cause is down to trying to integrate more than most which often throws up some wildcards because many things don’t make sense and even showing why something should be done one way as soon as your back is turned people return to the old methods. Other reasons being the fact people never learn from previous mistakes such as the cycle of poverty. For me there is no real reason to be stuck in the poverty trap or at least bring other people into it as simply most of the issues are down to some kind of life management. Too many kids, not enough income, unwilling to adapt to sustainable living. Now what may be misunderstood about life here and poverty is there is no real excuse for lack of food as many of the crafts are taught at school level just not carried on. Composting, allotment gardening and 101 other things why they don’t continue your guess is as good as mine when your talking about survival itself. But this moves on from that to people who have no jobs and no careers that then decide to have children without even first fixing the roof over their heads or organising a regular supply of food on the table. The poverty cycle ends up a continuous loop that nobody learns from. Some people will blame religion but I can only blame that so far as it still either comes down to self control or the ability to learn from past mistakes. Understanding your own hardships as a child to stop history repeating itself, now in Western eyes may not seem much but I have heard and know of many child mortalities in the Philippines which could have been saved purely down to cash flow. Some people may argue a few of the points above but one that everyone will agree with is life is cheap here.
Now what has that got to do with Expats? from the Indian princess story “If you don’t look over the wall you don’t have to see it” mentality doesn’t wash with most people and this is where the problem lies as many do want to help at the same time its often impossible as the result becomes “fine help you give me money?” money is the root of many of these problems.. You look at the Charity organisations and humanitarian organisations and I would ask what have they done in the countries they operate in the last 40 years that justifies their costs? I haven’t met anyone here that thinks charities and Aid organisations function properly and often just a gravy train for their perspective owners or side incomes for others one thing is for sure most people don’t see or think they actually help in most cases.
Now one thing I can say is the smaller groups I have met generally lack the funds but with that they lack the corruption as well, many of these do actually do things in a positive light and are under funded. But I have also been part of the dirty side of charities in the UK where they are competing with each other as businesses for the cash out of peoples pockets with their expensive advertising campaigns and its that side as well as the “board members” that I was involved the corruption is sickening to be honest as they are literally run as companies where the goal is “expenses” as a non profit making organisation needs to waste its money to function and generally something they are really good at. Smaller organisations on the other hand which for me are generally couples I have come across are using their own funds and struggle to get any assistance but actually do more than most larger organisations purely because they are doing it for the right reasons.
The other problem is the work ethic I have come across many people here that have given :-
- Expensive education for relatives children.
- Companies and businesses.
- Visas and other expenses to work abroad.
- Houses and other items for relatives.
But what does happen is a lot of the students drop out and not for what I call valid reasons I won’t post too many here but things like “its too hard”. Companies and businesses have been setup or gifted to relatives, a prime example was someone I know gave a small company to his sister in-law which has an income of $2,000 per month which is a large chunk of change for most Filipino’s in Cebu. What happened though is she generally just didn’t want to work and would leave orders to run out of date and simply just wanted to sit and do things like Facebook. She eventually got fired and now working for a Chinese guy making false IDs for P150 a day with one meal. Another example of visa’s and expenses is someone paid for a step son to travel abroad to work, explained once your there save your money for a return OFW trip before wasting any. But like many people he bought a new cell phone, laptop and bragging rights to his friends problem was the contract finished six months early and now he is stuck in the Philippines expecting his step father to bail him again even though he hadn’t paid back the first trips money (although he wasn’t supposed to that was the point of him saving for his next trip!).
The houses and gifts a long list has collated over the years from different people from the guy who bought a brand new tricycle for his in-laws who ran it into the ground finding out the engine had no oil. When he asked why they didn’t maintain it they said “but you didn’t give us any oil” of course a brand new motorcycle and side car to earn an income wasn’t enough. Then there are mad stories of brass neck which one is currently ongoing as relatives moved into a guys house with his wife which he had no problem with except when they said they wanted money as they weren’t going to work for free at the house. Yet free food and accommodation for 5 wasn’t enough they needed P5,000 a month to live there. End result they were thrown out.
Now a lot of people will no doubt see this as a completely negative post but its not supposed to be like that. Truth is these are things that happen all the time and its about learning from mistakes which to be honest most Expat’s who mess things up really don’t want to talk about publically. The free education they give for relatives or allowances I would ask why are you doing it? Someone dumped the responsibility of their kids on you and to be honest if they have a days work in their body most of them can educate their own kids. People not having money is another reason people get on the phone needing medical money, food etc. etc. always something its not your problem these people were here before you were and extending an arm so far will only see your pocket empty and the expectations of others widen.
So I am saying do nothing? I am saying be practical be sustainable, charities don’t work and society these days is based on handouts from others look at the UK with its unemployed which has reached 4th generation of families never having done a days work in their lives. Hand outs don’t work, feeding programs encourage people to hang around for food instead of look to earn/find it themselves. Sustainable development is the only real answer to the problems. The Philippines has a crisis of brain drain and its not going to stop you look at most Filipinos who can go abroad they are trying to get there. You talk to most Filipino’s about life outside the country they think its paved with gold, end result is an abandonment of life here as they look to the West for their future not their home country. Problem with tha
t is that things can’t develop if nobody is interested in doing it. It takes money, time and education and the majority of those people want to leave unless that trend changes anything you do is a splash in the ocean.
Realistically do what is achievable if your going to do something do it small and build on it. If it doesn’t work so be it at least you tried and didn’t lose much. If it works encourage the people benefiting from it to take things over there is no such thing as a free lunch so don’t encourage it, something earned has a lot more value than delivering a free meal. Container gardening for example offers a lot of free food at the same time its not exactly hard work if people can’t maintain the basics no point throwing money at something bigger. Its not always about large scale but getting people to appreciate the help as well as the benefits.